The Unquiet Art of Character Dialogue

As I mentioned in my last post, the characters of Girl With A Knife came alive for me at some point as I was writing the book.

When that started happening, the dialogue and interactions among the characters started to flow out of me so fast that I imagined there truly was smoke coming from the typewriter.

As an aside, my wife and I have a house in Cape May, New Jersey, where I go to do my writing. I can see the ocean from my office. And I love to go down there all alone with no wife, no kids, no dog. Just me and my keyboard and a quiet house.

I then unquiet it by blasting music so loud there is nothing but the crashing sound and the ocean view and me. And then I write.

I get up around 6:00 AM and rush – first for coffee – and then to the typewriter. I turn on the music, and the pages fly by.

I can write almost without pause until my wrists and fingers, arms and shoulders ache until about 3:00 in the afternoon when I just run out of steam. Sometimes, to my surprise, I find that as many as 30 pages have appeared in a single day.

Then it is time to go for a run and a walk on the beach and perhaps a swim. This is followed by a scotch – and if my wife is not with me, maybe even a cigar. Note: she hates cigar smoke and makes me take two – or even three – showers if I smoke one. I only have about two or three cigars yearly, so it isn’t that much of an issue.

Next, dinner and maybe a movie.

Then to bed and up the next day to do the same thing.

So…getting back to what I was talking about…once the characters came alive, I found writing dialogue, conversations, and interactions was completely effortless for me. The characters were almost writing the story themselves – or telling me what to say — in that they were acting consistent with their personalities.

Later – as I read what I wrote, I would be amazed at myself, as I found that for editing, I scarcely had to change a word.

Indeed, I have found that 95% of the editing of Girl With A Knife was everything except the dialogue.

It is so incredibly cool when my characters interact.

All of this was a strange sensation, and it felt great, truth be told.